Monday, May 10, 2010

More Weddings by Bella

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

It Had to Be You
By Janice Thompson

The Weddings by Bella series has a cute concept and introduces the reader to a lot of quirky characters. I enjoyed Swin
ging on a Star, the second in the series, although I would classify it as light reading. In the series, Bella Rossi takes over her parents’ wedding facility and introduces themed weddings. The weddings are a backdrop for the real stories, which are about Bella’s large Italian family. They live in Texas and Bella is engaged to a native Texan. Both her family and D.J.’s are full of characters and the joining of the two cultures can be quite funny.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed in the third book of the series, It Had to Be You.

In this book, Bella plans the wedding of her aunt and uncle, who, after 15 years of feuding, have finally admitted their love for each other. At the same time, she worries about when she will find time to plan her own wedding, scheduled for two months after theirs. Of course, things do not go smoothly and Bella becomes more and more frazzled. Most of the action takes place during the week leading up to Rosa’s and Laz’s wedding. Rossi relatives from Italy arrive, as well as Uncle Laz’s friend with Mob connections. Throw in a senior citizen swing band with one female member, a missing best friend and a trio of Spirit filled spinsters, and the week is quite hectic. The wedding ends with a series of events that leave Bella frantic, but should make you laugh.

The situations are amusing, but the characters are mostly Christians and they respond with faith. Everyone wants to see the Mob friend saved, but their witness isn’t always what it should be and in the end they to turn to the Lord, as they know they should have from the start.

My disappointment lay in the cartoonish quality of the characters and situations. I had already been introduced to Bella’s and D.J.’s families, including the three Spirit filled women on the prowl for a good man. This book adds Bella’s Italian relatives, who also love the Lord, but are a bit focused on women’s looks. The situations that emerge are overblown and I found the exaggeration tedious, rather than funny. The book is told in first person, and Bella’s voice is also exaggerated. I found her annoying in the way a relative with repetitive habits can sometimes be. We see the Italians through Bella’s lens, and they talk just like the Americans, even when they speak in Italian. The whole book felt like Thompson had written it in a hurry and relied on the work she had done for the other books in the series instead of making this one fresh.

In spite of the over-the-top characters and events, the end of the book is actually well plotted. The story doesn’t end when you expect it to, and the things that happen to Bella give her a chance to refocus on her priorities, including her career, marriage and relationship with the Lord. If you like her voice, you’ll get a funny view of how some Christians approach the ups and downs of life.

Pros: Funny situations and quirky characters from a Christian perspective.

Con: Everything in the book is an exaggeration and the story is does not have a lot of depth.

About the book:

Bella couldn't be happier that two of her long-feuding relatives have finally admitted their love for one another and are getting married. Their forties-style wedding is sure to be a night to remember. But when the Rossi house begins to fill up with family from Italy--and an old mobster from New Jersey--life starts to get complicated. Will a friend from the past drive the happy couple apart once more? And will Bella ever have time to think of her own rapidly approaching wedding amid the chaos?

Full of humor, plenty of Italian passion, and a bit of Texas gumption, It Had to Be You will have you laughing out loud and wiping a tear from your eye.

About the author:

Janice Thompson is a seasoned romance author and native Texan. An experienced wedding coordinator herself, Thompson brings alive in her books the everyday drama and humor of getting married. She is the author of Fools Rush In and Swinging on a Star. She lives in Texas.

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